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Marc, left, and Craig Kielburger, co-founders of WE Charity, speak at We Day celebrations in Kitchener, Ont., on Feb. 17, 2011.

GEOFF ROBINS/The Canadian Press

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WE said it

Re WE Had No Financial Motive In Contract, Co-founders Say (July 29): WE Charity has done much good internationally in the past, so why am I feeling so uneasy about this situation? When did some charities become massive businesses with for-profit arms and multimillion-dollar budgets?

Many charities seem to have become outlets for social gadflies, resume padding and travel opportunities. Of course, most do good even if individual motives might be suspect. But it is potentially a ripe field to attract entrepreneurs whose primary interests may not be altruistic but to build a business where customers buy a “feel good” concept – some religious organizations in the southern United States are pioneers of this.

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Hopefully the negative aspects of the WE situation will not discourage Canadians from continuing to support their chosen charities.

Laurie Kochen Toronto


Re WE Gave Little Insight Into Finances, Ex-board Chair Says (July 29): As a former president of Volunteer Canada, I am deeply concerned by the picture of governance presented by Craig and Marc Kielburger and former WE Charity board chair Michelle Douglas. WE does not reflect the reality for most of Canada’s 170,000 charities.

Very few – even the largest – have multiple “subsidiary” organizations. Almost none have founders who seem to wear both operational and governance hats, which can only result in confusion and complication for board members and staff.

In all my 30 years involved with non-profits at an executive level, I never heard of a board being denied robust financial information on a multimillion-dollar proposal (even on small proposals and programs, in fact) or full explanations around mass layoffs, let alone a chair being asked to resign by anyone other than the board itself. Ms. Douglas’s experiences at WE, now made so very public, should be considered unacceptable.

The purpose of the examination into WE may be to assess the ethics around its relationship with the federal government. But in the process, I see something unappealing being revealed: a non-profit that has lost its way and, as a high-profile and previously credible leadership organization, one that has let down the whole sector – and indeed society as a whole.

Paddy Bowen Ottawa

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Re MPs Asked, WE Answered, Now To The PM (Editorial, July 29): WE Charity had the opportunity to get Theo Fleury, a charismatic Métis speaker who, against incredible odds, rose to the highest echelons of achievement in the National Hockey League. He dealt with terrible abuse as a young person and had to overcome multiple personal demons before achieving some level of peace.

WE also had the opportunity to secure the speaking services of a presumably decent man of largely unknown accomplishment, who happens to be the son and brother of prime ministers, including one currently in the position of awarding lucrative contracts.

Presumably neither man needs the cash, but WE elects to pay one of them (and his mother) on several occasions for speaking to young people. Guess which one?

Dave McClurg Calgary


I keep hearing about volunteers being paid, but this is an oxymoron. By its very definition a volunteer is one who is not paid.

It ranks right up there with other very Canadian oxymorons that have come out of Ottawa, such as accurate assessments, approximate solutions and progressive conservatives.

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Jerry Amernic Toronto

Tax assessment

Re We Should Scrap The Homeowner Tax Break (July 29): Kudos to columnist Andrew Coyne for suggesting that non-taxation of capital gains on home sales deserves a serious look.

Homeowners have benefited from massive windfall gains and unearned capital gains, especially those that have held property for five or more years. They did nothing but sleep in bed at night while realizing double-digit returns.

As an alternative to taxing the capital gains, a more modest option would be a sales tax on home sales. Last week, the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness released a set of proposals to end homelessness over 10 years. The cost is estimated at $53-billion. A 5-per-cent sales tax on home sales would generate $11-billion a year and pay for this worthy goal in just five years.

Steve Pomeroy Senior research fellow, Centre for Urban Research and Education, Carleton University; Ottawa


While I can agree that flipping homes for a profit should be taxed, I can’t agree that this should apply to long-term home ownership, nor can I agree that those who move from city to city for work should be taxed on their (unlikely) gains.

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Many Canadians also see their home equity (read: gains) as their final financial cushion. They are often compelled to sell family homes to finance unwanted stays in seniors complexes.

If the government is going to consider such a proposal, then perhaps it should be telegraphed the same way Stephen Harper’s government proposed raising retirement age to 67 from 65. It would not have affected those Canadians who were close to retirement, but would have given others a long runway to prepare for the change.

Stew Valcour Rothesay, N.B.


Columnist Andrew Coyne’s proposal to further tax homeowners would wring the mobility out of labour and housing markets and stymie the evolution of Canadian families.

Thinking of moving for a better job? After tax on a home sale, there wouldn’t be enough left to buy the equivalent elsewhere. New baby? Squeeze in tight, because after tax there would only be enough money left to trade down. Time to downsize? Forget it: Canada Revenue Agency wouldn’t leave enough to cover condo fees.

Taxing gains on principal residences would lock Canadians into place and leave them more financially hobbled after life events, from widowhood to divorce to the birth of twins.

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Homeowners already fund schools, policing and more through hefty property taxes, land transfer taxes and sales taxes on renovation and maintenance purchases. Many can’t afford to move because of real estate fees and existing taxes.

It’s a big, free country – but homeowners are in chains.

Cheryl Tibbetts Toronto

Let’s go to the mall!

Re What’s In A Name? For Sports Teams, A Great Deal, And Not Much (July 27): The owners of the Edmonton football team have finally decided to change its name to better reflect Canada’s diversity and racial sensitivity. As a former resident of Edmonton, I am uniquely qualified to help them in their time of need.

No one outside Alberta knew, or cared much, where Edmonton was located until the West Edmonton Mall opened in 1981. The city immediately became the desired destination of shoppers throughout the world.

To pay tribute to “the Mall” and honour the team’s history of muscular football, I offer a new name: the West Edmonton Maulers.

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Ian Mennie Kimberley, B.C.


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